Posted: Tuesday, August 12th 2014 at 4:00pm
Johnson wins wild NeSmith Rumble On The Gumbo 50
By Roby Helm
Ronnie Johnson scored his seventh NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series victory of the season Saturday night at Greenville Speedway. / Photo: Courtesy NeSmith DLMS Media
GREENVILLE, MS – Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN took another step towards capturing his second straight $20,000 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Championship after picking up his seventh win of the season on Saturday night in the Rumble On Gumbo 50 at Greenville Speedway in Greenville, MS. The race was definitely a rumble held under threatening skies that gave way to a full moon.
Johnson inherited the lead on lap 37 when a multi-car tangle on a restart sent early race leader Johnny Stokes of Columbus, MS to the pits with a cut down right-rear tire. Despite heavy left side damage, and his own tire losing air, Johnson held on to drive the NeSmith Chevrolet Special to his 24th NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series career win.
“This was a win by default tonight because I wasn’t that good at the start of the race, but the car got better as the race went on,” Johnson said. “Johnny Stokes was the man to beat tonight, and it’s a shame he got caught up in that restart wreck. He got sideways in front of me and I tried to swerve to get around him, but everybody just ran into everybody.”
Marcus Minga of Shannon, MS survived the restart pile-up to take his best-career NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series finish of second after starting 22nd. Not only did Minga turn in his second-straight Top 4 finish, but challenged Johnson for the lead.
Chase Washington of Houlka, MS took the third spot and Peter Hazzard of Greenville, MS was fourth. Michael Blount of Sumrall, MS turned in his best finish of the season with a fifth-place effort.
Sid Scarbrough of Florence, MS finished sixth and Brent Barrett of Cleveland, MS was the last car on the lead lap in the seventh spot. James Andrews of Itta Bena, MS was the last car running on the race track when the checkered fell and finished eighth, five laps down.
The high attrition in the race saw Stokes finish ninth nine laps down and Ashley Newman of Ripley, TN rounded out the top ten, retiring from the race after completing 40 laps.
In preliminary action, Stokes was the fast qualifier among the 28 entrants with a lap around the 1/3-mile black gumbo clay oval in 15.122 seconds. The two ten-lap B-Main races were won by Hazzard and Chris Noah of Rainbow City, AL. Noah was also the Rookie of the Race.
Stokes took the lead at the start of the race followed by Johnson, Mike Palasini, Jr. of Leland, MS, Ryan Colby of Greenville, MS and Barrett. Palasini got under Johnson coming off the fourth turn on lap two to take over the second spot. Barrett got by Johnson for third on the next lap with an inside move in turn four.
The carnage of bent race cars began on lap eight when Kenny Carpenter of Cleveland, MS tagged the third turn wall, and then rode on top of the wall before executing a slow roll and coming to rest on the car’s roof to bring out the red flag. Carpenter was able to crawl out from under his car and was uninjured.
Stokes had Palasini, Barrett, Johnson, Colby, Nathan Mayes of Springdale, AR, John Polasini of Leland, MS, Neil Baggett of Shannon, MS, Noah and Washington doubled up behind him for the restart.
Stokes led Barrett, Palasini, Johnson, Colby, Mayes, Baggett, Noah, Polasini, and Dewayne Estes of Greenville, MS down for the restart. When the green flag came out, Palasini tried to dive under Barrett in turn one, but Palasini got sideways in turn two and triggered a multi-car pile-up.
After the caution flag came out for the third time in the race, the cars of Colby, Noah and Polasini were done for the night. Palasini was ticketed with the caution flag and went to the rear of the field for the restart. That reshuffled the top 10 that was made up of Stokes, Barrett, Johnson, Baggett, Mayes, Estes, Hazzard, Newman, Washington, and Hunter Carroll of Columbus, MS.
The fourth caution flag of the race came out on lap 24 when Mark Tice of Avon, MS stalled on the back stretch. On the restart, Johnson drove by Barrett to take the second spot coming off the second turn, and Baggett advanced from seventh to fourth. Tyler Arnold of Greenville, MS lost the driveshaft on lap 33 to bring out the fifth caution flag.
Stokes led Johnson, Barrett, Mayes, Hazzard, Baggett, Estes, Washington, Chase Edge of LaFayette, AL and Newman down for the double-file restart. Hazzard and Baggett got by Mayes, dropping him back to the sixth spot when the green flag came back out. Baggett sailed around the outside of Hazzard in turn three on lap 34 to take the fourth spot.
Baggett would give up the fourth spot on lap 37 when he cut down a tire and stopped on the track to bring out caution flag number six. This led to two more lap 37 restarts, as the rumble in the Rumble On The Gumbo was on with a major reshuffling for the Top 10 cars.
On the first lap 37 restart, Hazzard spun in the turn two to surrender the fourth spot, and Estes hit a utility tire used to mark the inside of the race track in turn four ending his night while running sixth. The next restart really changed the complexion of the race. Barrett got into the back of Stokes causing the leader to spin in front of the entire field.
The entire top 10 tangled up and ended the race for Mayes, Edge, and Carroll. Stokes went to the pits to change a cut down tire. Barrett was ticketed with the caution, and went to the rear of the pack for the restart.
Johnson took over the point followed by Washington, Minga, Scarbrough, Newman, Blount, Baggett, Hazzard, Stokes and Barrett in the top ten. When the green flag came out, the field resembled the walking wounded. Minga got under Washington for second and then dove to the inside of Johnson to battle for the lead.
Baggett lost a tire in turn three on lap 40 which was hit by Newman and Stokes, ending the night for all three drivers and leaving eight cars left on the track for the ten lap dash to the checkered flag. Johnson opened up a five car-length advantage on Minga by lap 45. Blount climbed up to the fourth spot on lap 48, but Hazzard made a pass for the spot on the last turn of the last lap.
Johnson took the checkered flag with almost a two second margin of victory over Minga. Johnson pulled his car into Victory Lane with the left side sheet metal mangled to the point that it had to be pulled away for Johnson to exit the car. His right rear tire was also going flat. If it had been the Rumble On The Gumbo 51, Minga may have scored the win.
Johnson now has a 214 point lead over Noah in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series point standings. Johnson could miss two of the final five races of the 2014 season and still own the point lead. Johnson’s seventh win of the season also ties him with David Earl Gentry of Murfreesboro, TN for the most wins in a single season. Gentry won seven races in the 2006 season.
The next two races for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series will be on August 30 at Arkadelphia Speedway in Bremen, AL with a 50-lap $2,500-to-win race and on August 31 at Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, MS for a 40-lap $2,000-to-win event.
For more information and rules about the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series, visit the series web site at nesmithracing.com.
NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series
Greenville Speedway - Greenville, MS
Rumble On The Gumbo 50 – Aug. 9, 2014
POS STRT CAR # DRIVER
1. 2 5 Ronnie Johnson Chattanooga, TN 50 $2,500
2. 22 19 Marcus Minga Shannon, MS 50 $1,250
3. 5 38 Chase Washington Houlka, MS 50 $850
4. 11 7p Peter Hazzard Greenville, MS 50 $700
5. 17 33 Michael Blount Sumrall, MS 50 $650
6. 23 33s Sid Scarbrough Florence, MS 50 $550
7. 6 110 Brent Barrett Cleveland, MS 50 $500
8. 24 3 James Andrews Itta Bena, MS 45 $450
9. 1 1 Johnny Stokes Columbus, MS 41 $400
10. 16 73 Ashley Newman Ripley, TN 40 $375
11. 7 21b Neil Baggett
12. 8 15 Nathan Mayes Springdale, AR 36 $300
13. 13 70 Dewayne Estes Greenville, MS 36 $280
14. 20 18 Chase Edge LaFayette, AL 36 $260
15. 9 147 Hunter Carroll Columbus, MS 36 $250
16. 19 20 Tyler Arnold Greenville, MS 30 $240
17. 15 24 Mark Tice
18. 21 44 Peyton Wilkerson Leland, MS 21 $200
19. 4 8 Mike Palasini Jr. Leland, MS 19 $200
20. 14 1c Jason Botsford Pearcy, AR 19 $200
21. 3 21 Ryan Colby Greenville, MS 14 $200
22. 12 56n Chris Noah (R) Rainbow City, AL 14 $200
23. 10 51 John Polasini Leland, MS 14 $200
24. 18 46 Kenny Carpenter Cleveland, MS 6 $200
Link: NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series
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